Mystery blaze leaves Hartlepool tennis club counting the cost after equipment destroyed in fire
A Hartlepool community tennis club has been left counting the cost after hundreds of pounds of equipment went up in smoke.
A mystery fire broke out in a storage hut at Eldon Grove Tennis Club on Wednesday night.
The hut and numerous pieces of equipment inside were destroyed.
Cleveland Fire Brigade says it is investigating the cause which is unknown at this stage.
The hut contained spare equipment including nets, posts, training equipment, as well as items for social functions and maintenance equipment.
Tony Evans, chairman of Eldon Grove Bowling and Tennis Club Ltd, said: “We are going to have to replace, certainly immediately, the equipment for the ongoing maintenance.
“We are also going to have to fundraise to get more nets and posts.
“It is just frustrating and sets the club back a couple of years in the fundraising we have done.”
Two engines from Hartlepool attended the fire at around 9.30pm on Wednesday.
They were there until around 10.30pm.
A brigade spokesman said the damage was restricted to the storage area adding: “The cause is unknown. We are investigating.”
Mr Evans believes it is likely it was started deliberately.
He said: “We are 99% certain it was intruders. They would have had to make a deliberate effort to get to where the hut is.
“We don’t store anything in there that could have kickstarted a fire.
“It must have been deliberate or a freak accident like a Chinese lantern landing on it.
“I think we are going to have to get a skip to put all of the burned stuff in.”
Mr Evans put the cost of the damage at around £1,000 including the 15ft by 12ft hut.
A wooden fence was also destroyed but prevented the fire spreading to another storage hut used by the bowls club.
The tennis club caters for all ages and abilities with players aged from three to over 80.
Coincidentally, the tennis club is holding a tidy up day on Sunday from 1pm when volunteers are encouraged to give an hour.
The Mail recently reported how deliberate fires in Hartlepool rose by 124 incidents (32%) year on year to the end of January to 510.
Anyone with information about the tennis club fire can contact Cleveland Fire Brigade on (01429) 872311.